Brandon Belt is a good first baseman.
We're about 2,400 innings into his big-league career, and just about every defensive metric shows him being above average. His career UZR and UZR/150 are in positive territory. So's his DRS and rPM. I have … very little understanding of how those work. But when a bunch of defensive stats concur, I'm inclined to trust them.
It's at this point that I'd like to apologize to all of the hacky writers I've made fun of over the years, because making up nerd acronyms and initialisms really does seem like something that would fit right now. DOORPA. FeRM. SNOOd. Man, I need to invent a stat.
Michael Morse probably isn't a good first baseman.
We don't have as much of a sample -- just over 900 innings -- but most of the metrics have him slightly below average at first. In his one full season at first (2011), he graded out poorly across the board, but he's buoyed his career ratings with good marks in his cameos along the way. I don't know what that means, if it means anything at all. Overall, though, he's been below average, but mostly inoffensive.
Brandon Belt might be a good outfielder.
He has surprising speed and a good arm. Which means nothing if his breaks and routes are bad, so that's the reason for the "might" up there. It's like that old scout's saying: He has the tools, but he might not have the thumbs to grip them. And if that isn't an old scout's saying, it should be.
Michael Morse will never be a good outfielder.
If you're acronymophobic, and you prefer to stay away from defensive stats, don't worry. Everyone's in agreement with this one. He doesn't look good out there, and the stats agree. He's Pat Burrell, but one you'd be okay with your daughter bringing home.
Brian Sabean mentioned on Tuesday that Morse might play a little first. It was an offhand response to a question, and you can't expect him to say, "Never. Not once. Not even if Brandon Belt retires and Buster refuses to play first again. Not even if Brett Pill is backpacking through Europe, and not if the only other player with first-base experience on the roster is Jose Vizcaino. Never, never, never." No, the only answer is, dunno, yeah, he could.
But pretend it wasn't just a dunno, yeah, he could. Pretend the Giants are planning on a lot of Morse at first. Now you have to decide what's better:
- Good at first, bad in left
- Meh at first, ??mystery defense?? in left
It's a Let's Make a Deal scenario. Do the Giants want what's in the box? Could be a new car. Could be a goat.
Oh, no, wait, or is this like the Monty Hall problem, which I've never been smart enough to understand? Maybe the Giants need to switch their pick to Brandon Crawford playing left, or something. Morse was a shortstop, you know.
No, let's ignore the Monty Hall problem and assume it's a binary decision. Go with the good/bad combo? Or see what's in the box? I'm tempted by the box.
There are other considerations that probably tilt the decision in the favor of the status quo. Taking Belt out of his comfort zone might affect his hitting, for example. It could make him rusty when he returns the following season. There could be consequences.
Still, I'm not opposed to exploring what's in the box. The Giants have repeatedly said they aren't messing around with Belt in the outfield, so this is a moot point. But if they were to try the swap, I wouldn't be offended at all. If there's a chance that Morse could be decent at first instead of awful in the outfield, a little creativity could benefit the pitching staff.
Or, you know, don't sign a clomper like Morse in the first place. The Rockies just acquired Drew Stubbs for a lefty reliever. I would have preferred the Giants did that. But let's make clomperade out of the clomper life gave us.
That's an article about Michael Morse playing first base if it means getting a better left fielder in the outfield. Because I sure as hell know there's no possible way we're talking about sitting Belt against lefties just to get another right-handed bat in the lineup, which is a comically awful idea that has backfired again and again and again over the last couple years, repeatedly making Bruce Bochy seem like someone who's tripping balls on fermented coleslaw, so dammit, no, nope, no.
It's probably not that. So don't worry. Much.